Saturday, December 03, 2005

Social Progress in India?

Kaushik Basu is Economic professor at Cornell University. He has an article on the bbc about social progress vs. economy in India. He has an article on Whither social progress in India? . The issues he mentions are child labour, gay rights, stem cell research, caste discrimination, gender discrimination. But he only gives numbers and facts for child labour and non-existent gay rights. Why not talk about the others? There are other social issues, like dowry, female infanticide, misuse of the dowry protection law, lack of elementary education facilities in rural places, etc. Punjab has the highest male/female ratio compared to any other state.

Child Labour: Somewhere between 10.25% and 19.90% of all Indian children between the ages of nine and 15 are labourers.

Gay Rights: Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code categorizes homosexuals as criminals.

He claims today's India is more intolerant than 50 years ago.
Rebuttal: India has a Muslim President, Sikh Prime Minister, a communist party part of the central goverment in a country with a Hindu majority. How are we less tolerant than the Indian 50 years ago? India has also had a Women prime minister. In the last two hundred years US is still to have a woman or a black president. Most presidents fit the protestant white male category. If I remember correctly there have been only 2 Catholic presidents, JFK being one.

Even with the so called economic development there are still huge parts of India with there is no running water, electricity, and roads. About 30% of India still lives below the poverty line. Child Labor stems from poverty and not social or cultural situations. Everybody should be able to atleast provide for themselves a basic standard of living. People who cry themselves hoarse about outsouring don't realize that if 10,000 US jobs move to India, is just sliver of the cake. Standard of living has improved for the middle class, but we still have a long way to go to make India a economically developed controy. And if we truly equate social and economic progress, I think we have made equal progress in both.

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